A free after-school boxing program in Aurora is getting a new home right next to its aging location under a plan presented Tuesday to the city council.
The Fox Valley Park District plans to start construction in the next couple of weeks on a $739,000 gym for the Jesse "The Law" Torres Boxing Club at the Copley II Recreation Center at 517 N. Union St, spokesman Jeff Long said.
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Boxers in the program are using a gym building that is more than 50 years old and has reached the end of its useful life, Long said. The new 4,100-square-foot space will give them an updated facility to train as they participate in the program, which promotes physical fitness through boxing and gives kids and teens a safe outlet away from gangs and drugs.
Started in 1998 by Jesse Torres, a former professional boxer now working as an Aurora police officer, the Jesse "The Law" Torres Boxing Club strives to teach boys and girls discipline, respect, health and fitness while keeping them off the streets, according to its website.
The club's slogan is "Keeping the punches where they belong," and current participants are from Aurora and Oswego.
Long said Torres has a positive influence on the young boxers he coaches from the gym he started on the city's near east side.
"He trains the fighters and gives them a place to go," Long said. "He's pointing kids in the right direction."
The building's appearance, streetscape and location have been approved by city staff members and the plan was presented to aldermen Tuesday for their information, said Carie Anne Ergo, chief management officer.
The park district has the city's permission to build the new gym unless any objections are raised. None were brought forward Tuesday night.
Long said construction is expected to take between six and eight months. Once the new gym opens, the park district will demolish the old building.
Lite Construction of Montgomery will be building the new gym under a bid the park district approved in May, Long said.